Central home has a history worth sharing

Louise Liebenberg

IN THE mid-1990s, 49 Havelock Street was a popular lunchtime stop for those who lived and worked in Port Elizabeth’s oldest suburb. It housed a sweet little cafe and art gallery and had been expertly restored, having virtually gone to wrack and ruin in the preceding years.

Sadly the area of Central began to decline, the cafe and gallery were closed and number 49 changed hands.

While its later owners were themselves heritage- minded and consistently maintained the property, which was proclaimed a National Monument in 1990, it was sad to see some of its wonderful potential lost.

The building has been owned by a family trust for some years and a lucrative accommodation business operates from the premises.

Alberta Nel has been managing the business on behalf of the family. She lives in the main house while the accommodation side is run from the three outbuildings on the premises.

Alberta mainly caters for people doing their in-service training in the city, or out-of-towners needing an affordable, clean place to stay while they have friends or family in hospital in the city. She also takes great pride in tending the tranquil, pretty garden in the front.

Number 49 is on the market for R1-million and the agent marketing it, Marina du Toit of Jawitz Properties, says it is special in many ways.

“The house was built in 1859 by carpenter John Wood, son of a British settler. The outbuildings, once store rooms, are also of historical importance and really worth protecting. There used to be so many of these amazing early homes in Central, including on this block, but many of them were torn down over the years.”

The property was restored in the 1990s with close involvement from architect John Rushmere, to ensure restoration efforts were in line with National Monument Council requirements.

“Whoever buys it could either continue a similar business to the current one. But there is always the hope that someone who will appreciate and honour its history will buy it and use its full potential. One could even run a complex of lovely little shops from here, as was the case in the early 1990s.”

The main dwelling is mainly constructed of timber clapboard joined in the authentic “shiplap” method, with some brickwork and concrete elements. The roof structure, made from corrugated iron on timber trusses, is also of interest.

The main house has an attractive covered verandah, entrance hall, living room, four bedrooms, a kitchen and two bathrooms.

“Internal finishes include Oregon pine floors under timber tongue and groove ceilings.

“The adjoining outbuildings include a dormitory plus four rooms, a communal kitchen and bathroom facilities.”

To view the property, call Marina on 084-473-6995.

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